Monday, February 23, 2009

Random Rave: 1905, Detaille

I remember seeing an entry for Detaille on the list of perfumeries at Now Smell This, and thinking their traditional fragrances were probably just my sort of thing. But Paris is far away and I try to resist unsniffed lemmings, so I promptly forgot about Detaille--until last week, when I opened a Mardi Gras gift from our friend Jean, and it turned out to be a bottle of Detaille's 1905. Jean was in Paris with her husband recently, and since she's seen what I'm like after a binge at the New Orleans perfumeries, she thought a bottle of something from the Parisian equivalent might be appropriate for me. Good woman, that Jean. In addition to being a sweet, thoughtful friend, she also turns out to have a great nose. 1905 is a beautiful fragrance, and as I suspected, just my sort of thing.

It opens with a violet note, tinged with galbanum, but there's no grassy harshness--just a sunny green wave that lifts the violet's earthy sweetness. A bit of aldehydic fizz helps in that task but never threatens to sear through the tender flower. The heart is a perfectly composed floral accord, which Detaille's website catalogs as iris, rose, jasmine and ylang ylang. I detect all those, but the shifting notes also suggest hints of lily and peony. "Classic" is the only word for the character of this scent. It brings to mind a host of great florals: Quelques Fleurs, Evening in Paris, Caron's French Cancan, even vintage L'Air du Temps. It has a brightness all of those lack, however, which I think comes from the lingering green note and an exceptionally tame, almost creamy jasmine.

The base is light moss and sandalwood, with no resinous notes and only the tiniest hint of musk. It reminds me a little of Caleche or VC&A's First, though it's much higher pitched than either of those. The bottom notes are surprisingly dry after the abundance of flowers in the heart. Happily, it completely lacks that rain-on-a-rusty-lawn-chair aura that modern florals often take on as they fade. 1905 doesn't pull any surprises at the end, just quietly disappears with a ladylike discretion Edith Wharton would have admired.

Enabler's note: If you're not planning a trip to Paris, I believe Detaille perfumes are available at Takashimaya.

Portrait of Elizabeth Drexel, Giovanni Boldini, 1905. Image from Wikimedia Commons.


chayaruchama said...

So, sister-
Where's the Lorelei, hmmm ?
I hear the siren song...

And the painting.
They dressed you up !
[LOVE that painting]

Mary said...

Great review as always, Gracie. Sounds like another to add to my 'to test' list.

BitterGrace said...

It's definitely testworthy. Not edgy or innovative, but perfectly classic--just the sort of scent that's disappearing.